Buying jewellery is not just about buying a valuable gem or metal for women. It is certainly not just about pride or adornment. It is more about opulence and a feeling of well-being. When out for buying jewellery, a woman is not actually buying just a diamond or a ring, she is buying a sentiment. Celebrating jewellery as a sheer sign of integrity, a statement of womanhood, the woman of substance has gradually evolved, stepping out of the realms of her household to be a part of the corporate workforce.
This urbane, new-fangled, self assured woman has done a virtual 360 degree turnaround with her chic hairdo and glorious fashion accompaniments like watches and jewellery. Jewellery designer Monica Kapur, Gold Souk, comments, For the Indian woman, jewellery was and is, even today in many parts considered as an asset, the value of which will almost always accentuate, never depreciate.
Also, trans-gressing through history we find that jewellery has not remained just a craft, but evolved into
an art - both in design and workmanship, gaining
popularity in the niche segment of working women, the college-goers, the affluent buyers et al.
Meghas story - Socalite and home maker Megha, like the majority of Indian women dotes on gold jewellery. For as long as she can bring to mind she has been taking services of the neighbourhood family goldsmith, her familys trusted gold merchant for decades, and she was quite certain that she was in tune with most up-to-date designs. There was never ever a need to visit the jewellery shop: the good-humored goldsmith would come to the house, display an array of traditional designs, discuss details and then agree to execute their new order. Lately, Megha on one of her shopping spree with a friend, spotted an interesting shimmer of gems in the display window of a store she realised, she had already entered the store. What she saw there completely mesmerised her. The expansive, posh, stylishly lit, air-conditioned interiors left her astonished, the ambience was splendid, the display of gems and jewels mind-blowing and notably the sales attendants were very affable and courteous.
The glitter of brands
Megha is not a lone example, buying behaviour patterns reveal that most jewellery buyers are predominantly shifting their precedence from weighty gold jewellery to light and competitively priced branded jewellery. Compared to the hodgepodge of traditional jewellery, this jewellery is more wearable and appealing, befitting a variety of occasions. Says Ms Sabina Batra, owner, De Ornate, People used to prefer visiting the traditional jewellers for buying wedding jewellery, but times have changed now. Branded jewellery retailers have also created a class of discerning consumers who recognise a brand by its distinctiveness. Needless to say that having spent nearly a decade in the business, the branded jewellery retailers have succeeded in winning the trust of consumers.
Undoubtedly, the shift from the goldsmith to branded names in jewellery has led to an increase in the number of consumers opting for the kind of jewellery that wears a designer label. Mr Vincent Breganza, head, marketing and category management, Tanishq feels, Branded jewellery retailers have set standards in jewellery design by launching exclusive collections which are inspired from the rich Indian art and craft, but contemporarised for todays woman. Branded jewellery retailing is about bringing superior standards in product, retailing and marketing for the Indian consumer, which were hitherto unknown in this industry.
By chanting and assuring the mantra of credibility, quality and purity, branded jewellery has made its presence felt in India in a big way. Says Mr Suresh Varma, MD, Diamond Hut, Most consumers prefer to buy jewellery which can be worn regularly and goes well with both Indian and western outfits. A trendy pair of earrings, a pendant and a delicate bracelet is what most women prefer over other items of jewellery. This kind of jewellery not only looks elegant, but is also reasonably priced.
Elaborating on the overall rise in brand-consciousness, says Mr Breganza, People tend to go back to a brand after buying once. It may be due to their certification of quality, their exchange schemes or corporate approach, but there is no denying the attraction of these outlets. Almost all branded lightweight jewellery is hallmarked and sold at maximum retail price. Therefore, consumers can rest assured that they can purchase the product at the best price.
The traditional flare
Majority of traditional jewellery retailers are mindful of the reality that first and foremost they ought to strengthen and service the marriage-related market, together with capitalising on the acceleration in self-purchase demand and the most recent market for lighter weight wearable items that appears to have so much long-standing potential.
Mr Shiv Jindal, MD, Jindal Diamonds says,These days traditional jewellers are offering more flexibility in terms of designs, and there is rarely any repetition of a particular design. This way traditional or antique jewellery will never go out of style. In comparison, the customer will get a limited variety if he chooses to buy branded jewellery. Yet, there exists a section of the consumers who appreciate both traditional and branded jewellery. Elaborates Mr Arvind Bhola, MD, Bhola Sons Jewellers, Traditional jewellery speaks of the unmatched calibre of the artisans and their ability to generate some of the finest designs. At the same time, I also admire some of the branded jewellery designs like the seven-stone diamond earring by Nakshatra also called the vaira thodu concept in the South.
Mr Jindal adds, There are a lot of sentiments attached to buying jewellery that branded jewellers can not satisfy. Jewellery shoppers like to deal with known entities and apart from the heritage and quality of jewellery, traditional jewellers offer a more personalised shopping experience.
As a result, a number of consumers still prefer buying jewellery from their trusted family jeweller rather than from a branded store.
Some sensible shopping
These days most of the branded jewellery outlets provide a special retail ambience and modern in-store elements making the products look beautiful, very crisp and clean. Conspicuous endeavor is being made by brands like, say, Tanishq, which is present in 50 cities with 67 exclusive showrooms or Inter Gold, which has its 24 stand-alone stores across 15 cities in India, or Oyzterbay, to help consumers heighten their shopping experience. According to Mr Govindraj, GM, retail operations and sales, Shoppers Stop, The initial response is very good and the biggest opportunity in a large format department store is exposing your products to the huge walk-in customers. These brands provided an alternative to the family jeweller by instituting high quality; fine finished, machine made diamond studded designer jewellery.
The role of shopping malls, in jewellery retailing is also imperative. Malls and newer formats of retailing in jewellery are giving a boost to branded jewellery retailing. Mr Breganza says, People are buying in different environments, which are more evolved and international. Precious jewellery is now available in smarter formats in malls, more opulent stand alone stores, as well as exclusive high value boutiques. The variation in retailing formats and the sheer scale of growth is awe inspiring in India.
Offering significant savings over mall stores are the trusted online jewellery stores which do not have high overhead expenses and can make it up on volume by serving a national audience instead of just a few neighborhoods around a jewellery store. Online stores tend to educate a consumer before and one can generally find better prices and better selections online.
Another trend increasingly being noticed in jewellery retail is online jewellery transactions. One such company is GOL is Gerald Online, at www.geraldonline.com, a completely new concept in jewellery retailing, selling high quality diamond jewellery, branded watches and hall-marked gold and silver through a secure site, at exceptionally low prices. Also, bringing world class designs at consumers doorstep are similar companies like tiffany.com; goldmine.com. In the US, Jewellery Television is one of the top 20 largest jewellery retailers of fine jewellery and the only home shopping network to focus exclusively on the sale of fine jewellery and gemstones. It is not far when things will happen likewise for jewellery in India.
USEFUL TIP : Keeping watches and jewellery brands in the department stores makes perfect business sense as they occupy less space and offer higher profitability per square foot.
What every woman wants - Latest trends
Trend 1: Diamonds set in white metal. The strongest trend in jewellery design is diamonds set in white metal, particularly platinum. Its purity is the perfect symbol of a new beginning.
Trend 2: Brilliant briolettes. The briolette is an antique gemstone cut that is the hottest new gem trend.
Trend 3: Delicate wires. Another futuristic touch in jewellery design today is flexible wire, which is updating pendants and necklaces.
Trend 4: Square cuts Brilliant square princess cut diamonds are the latest look in engagement rings and diamond stud earrings.
Trend 5: Pav impressions. This style of setting, called pav, paves the surface of a piece of jewellery with tiny diamonds set side to side covering a large area of the piece.
Trend 6: Diamond hoops Surprisingly versatile, the hoops are small in diameter, hugging the ear. A sprinkling of diamonds and white metal makes them up-to-the-minute as well as timeless.
Trend 7: Fine mesh Beautiful. 22-karat yellow gold mesh is the latest look in chokers, necklaces, and bracelets.
Trend 8: Coloured diamonds. The sparkle and brilliance of a diamond, alluring hues of colored diamonds is a growing trend in the world of jewellery.
Trend 9: Coral and turquoise. When paired with diamonds, turquoise and coral take on a new dimension of luxury.
Trend 10: The soothing pearl. Luxurious Tahitian and South Sea pearls are brought to life this season.
Trend 11: Vintage jewellery. The demand for vintage-inspired jewellery continues to grow. From exotic, lacy, enamel workings of Indian Kundan, Meena jewellery set with raw gemstones to rich royal looks of Gheru finished jewellery, designers are creating unique and contemporary interpretations of these classics.
In vogue: Fine watches
The jewellers are progressively introducing fine watches into their collections. With jewellery becoming much more of a fashion statement, there is an auxiliary new class of consumers buying watches as fashion accessories, not as timepieces.
What men may buyâ€¦
Jewellery for men has come a long way from the days of huge gold pendants worn carelessly. Cufflinks: For men, collecting cufflinks is akin to women amassing earrings. The beauty of buying cufflinks is that one never has to worry about size - one size really does fit all.
Tie clips and the tacts: It follows to a large extent the identical trail as cufflinks.Whatever the width of this years ties, a tie clip is always appropriate. A tie clip is more than an ornamental item needed to batten down the flapping ends of a tie although that is a very practical function.
Rings: Branded jewellery stores today offer a selection of rings that suit the modern man who appreciates good wine, fine paintings, and excellent craftsmanship. It may be set in diamonds or made entirely of gold, but either way these rings offer an opportunity to express a mans personality whether he is bold and outgoing or elegant and sophisticated.
Loop studs: For formal wear, an elegant man wears his own stud set. Replacing buttons, studs offer men one of the unusual chances to wear jewelry on a formal shirt. A stud set may be black onyx or another gemstone, set in gold or platinum. Many stud sets have matching cufflinks but one may also look for a set to complement his best cufflinks
Watches: A wardrobe of watches would be delightful for any man and here the sky is the limit. A wardrobe of mens watches would include a steel bracelet watch as well as a fine gold watch on a leather band and perhaps a platinum watch set with diamonds.
Media and jewellery
The role of advertisingâ€¦.
Advertising and promotion communicate the authenticity and class of the product to the consumer. Mr Breganza says, Marketing strategy does not only mean making people aware of the brand and advertising is definitely more than just salesmanship in print or through media. There is a whole cycle that moves on when it comes to project a brand in the market. Mr Dharmesh Sodha, president, Ddamas Jewellery India, comments, In India, the jewellery brands are being preferred on the basis of their honesty and credibility. One important development in this regard has been the introduction of Karat meters at the branded jewellery outlets, which enabled consumers to ascertain the purity of the gold they bought and create enormous equity for the brand. Though, branded jewellery as a fashion accessory commands only a small share, approximately two per cent of the Rs 50,000 crore jewellery market in India, its demand is growing at a healthy rate of twenty to thirty per cent annually.
Mr Mehra feels that marketing is a powerful tool but it is the goodwill built up over the years that steals the show in the end. He says, Marketing strategies used by the branded jewellery retailers cannot build up customers trust overnight. Traditional jewellery retailers have nurtured their relationship with the customers for years. After some time, the customers develop a rapport with the traditional jewellers, which works to the advantage of both.
In short, the ideal marketing mix of innovative ideas and promotions through mass media have made branded jewellery retailers far more recognisable names in jewellery retailing than the traditional jewellery retailers.
The sparkling path aheadâ€¦
In terms of jewellery retailing, India is making fast progress and the field has huge potential. The big reason why branded jewellery retailers are able to make so much headway is because they have never shied away from reinventing themselves. They have introduced ethical practices and design innovations to suit the needs of Indian women. On the other hand, we see that the traditional jewellery retailers have also introduced a number of collections that firmly established their reputation on the fashion scene. More importantly, whether the branded jewellery retailers score over the traditional jewellery retailers or vice versa, one good thing that has come up is that a deliberate attempt has been made to identify the jewellery with the aspirations and emotional needs of consumers, rather than with palpable consumption.
Buying jewellery lookout...!
The style, quality, appearance and cost of the jewellery are usually the prime decision making factors for buying jewellery. These tips might just come handy in the process.
GOLD The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals.
l 24-karat gold is 100 per cent pure gold, so soft that it is not often used for jewellery
l 18 karat is 75 per cent gold, mixed with copper or silver. It is more lemony in tone and is good for rings
l 14 karat is 58.3 per cent gold. Its reddish hue comes from added copper alloys, which also lend it durability
l 10 karat is 41.6 per cent gold. Less than 10-karat gold is not legally called or sold as gold
Always insist on a guarantee card specifying the karatage of gold. Also remember that gold purity is defined in K or KT, not CT (as often used by jewellers). In case of discovery of fraud on gold karatage you cannot hold on to a guarantee card wherein the purity is defined as CT. 916 is no fancy number, but a warranty assured by the jeweller on the fineness of the 22 carat gold alloy used in making the ornament.
PLATINUM Platinum jewellery for the rarest, purest and heaviest precious metal. The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking 900 Platinum means the item is 90 per cent platinum and 10 per cent other metals.
DIAMONDS This is how a diamond should look:
Colour: a diamond should be more than just white but not necessarily blue white . Though diamond colour grades range from a D (colourless) down to Z and along the line they move into a coloured diamond range, and become more valuable as the colour becomes more intense. Fancy (naturally coloured) diamonds are rarer and more valuable than the white variety. Along about R, S, T you get a nice champagne colour and then a golden brown called a cognac colour diamond, both of which can be very attractive and are available at a good price.
Clarity: A diamond should be far better than just eye-clean but should not necessarily be internally flawless. The clarity grades range from FL (flawless), to IF (internally flawless), through VVS, VS, SI (slightly included) to I where you can see an inclusion, like a piece of carbon, with the naked eye if you know how to look for it.
Cut: Its the cut that makes a diamond sparkle! A good cut giving a lot of sparkle and fire which is the play of colors through the stone. About 40 per cent of a stones value is in the cut, often ignored by uneducated diamond buyer
Carat: The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. This is the easiest factor to determine. One carat is divided into 100 points, thus a diamond with 75 points weighs .75 carats